The House on Thursday approved a $715 billion surface transportation and water infrastructure bill — a step advocates hope could lead to sweeping infrastructure legislation by September.
The bill, which includes provisions from President Joe Biden's initial $2.3 trillion infrastructure proposal, authorizes additional spending for roads, bridges, highway safety, electric vehicle charging stations, rail, transit, drinking, and wastewater infrastructure.
It also funds programs that would provide money for major projects, including an $11.6 billion plan to connect New Jersey and New York's Penn Station in midtown Manhattan via four modern transportation tubes beneath the Hudson River, according to Reuters.
The 221-201 vote for the INVEST in America Act sends the legislation to the split Senate, CBS News reported.
It’s the first time the House has voted to pass legislation containing earmarks, since Democrats and Republicans reinstituted the practice of allowing lawmakers to add pet projects to spending bills earlier this year, Reuters reported.
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee said the bill designates more than 1,470 projects amounting to nearly $5.7 billion in spending, Reuters reported. Nearly 1,070 projects worth just under $4 billion were sought by Democrats. Republicans secured 403 projects valued at nearly $1.7 billion.
"I'm suggesting that substantial amounts of the policy in our bill should be negotiated — by the White House and the Senate and the House — to be part of that bipartisan proposal," House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chair Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., the main sponsor of the bill, told reporters this week, Axios reported. "The Senate bipartisan deal is an outline," DeFazio added. "There's no policy attached to their proposal. You have to have policy to do a bill."
The measure could also help a bipartisan working group in the Senate convert their $1.2 trillion infrastructure framework into legislative text, Reuters noted. Biden has endorsed the bipartisan deal and the Senate hopes to pass legislation by the end of the month.
The House panel’s transportation bill contains $343 billion for roads, bridges, and safety - including $4 billion for electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
The measure also calls for $109 billion for transit and $95 billion for rail, including tripling funding for the U.S. passenger railroad, Amtrak, to $32 billion, $117 billion for drinking water infrastructure, and more than $51 billion for wastewater infrastructure, Axios noted.
It also would authorize $4.1 billion for grants to buy electric transit buses, create a $500 million grant program to reduce traffic gridlock in large metropolitan areas and $1 billion to address the shortage of parking for commercial motor vehicles and allow for heavier electric vehicles on U.S. roads and mandate additional safety features in new school buses, Reuters reported.
Fran Beyer ✉
Fran Beyer is a writer with Newsmax and covers national politics.
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